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The consortium wanting to develop UK’s min-nuclear plants will have to rely on tax-payer funding.

State support a fallback option for UK’s mini-nuclear plants rollout.
The head of the consortium, which is developing a £ 30 billion fleet of mini-nuclear power stations, has indicated that it will have to rely on UK taxpayers to help fund the construction of the first of the new designs if there is not enough investor interest. Kwasi Kwarteng, business secretary, confirmed on Tuesday that the government is committed to £ 210 million in state funding to a Rolls-Royce-led consortium developing a new generation of small modular reactors (SMRs) as part of a new push into nuclear power
to help achieve the UK’s net zero target.

The government has previously seen that it was prepared to approve up to £ 2 billion in state funding to help start the program, which envisages the construction of at least 16 SMR power stations. Consortium chief executive Tom Samson told the Financial
Times that he had held talks with the government on the possibility of “putting in part of the cost for the first three or four units and then using it as a way to exploit private capital”.

Samson declined to comment on the potential scope of any further government investment and stressed that while it is an option, the aim was to “move forward in line with the
technology that requires the least government funding”. He added: “It is our duty to bring this story to the [capital] markets.”. The first five SMR power stations would cost £ 2.2bn each, with the price of subsequent units dropping to £ 1.8bn, according to Rolls-Royce. The consortium is looking to build the plants at operational and mothballs nuclear power plants in Britain.

 FT 10th Nov 2021

https://www.ft.com/content/869279aa-f771-4025-8719-c3b8bdf1f375

The consortium wanting to develop UK’s min-nuclear plants will have to rely on tax-payer funding.

November 11, 2021 Posted by | politics, UK | 1 Comment

President Macron boosts nuclear industry, but in reality, France’s prospects for new reactors are grim


too expensive, too slow and too dangerous”.

Announcing a nuclear revival and the construction of new reactors is totally disconnected from reality

Macron boosts nuclear power plans to meet France’s net-zero ambitions, The Age, By Bevan Shields, November 10

”…………………in a shift, the French President on Tuesday night, Paris time (Wednesday morning AEDT) said the country would rededicate itself to atomic power.

“…………….we will for the first time in decades revive the construction of nuclear reactors in our country………….” Macron said.

He did not give details but the comments were seen as a reference to the expected green-lighting of as many as 14 next-generation nuclear plants proposed by grid operator RTE.

Macron made the announcement against the background of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, where new forms of electricity generation have been identified as a key issue in the fight against climate change, and an energy crisis in Europe triggered by falling gas supplies and an unusually calm summer and autumn which has affected the output of wind turbines.

While confidence in nuclear took a hit in France following the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, it is still a relatively uncontroversial technology compared to other countries such as Australia, where some Coalition MPs are pushing Prime Minister Scott Morrison to explore its feasibility.

Macron sought to tie the new nuclear push to French innovation and national pride – key themes for the President as he enters a tough presidential election campaign in 2022.

His position is in stark contrast to Germany, where nuclear power is on course to be phased out by next year.

The vast majority of France’s nuclear facilities were built in the 1970s and 1980s. A third reactor is being added to a plant in Flamanville, in the Normandy region, but the project which started in 2007 has been plagued by cost overruns and huge delays.

Greenpeace France energy transition campaigner Nicolas Nace condemned Macron’s latest announcement and pointed to the Flamanville project to claim nuclear power was “too expensive, too slow and too dangerous”.

“Announcing a nuclear revival and the construction of new reactors as the nuclear industry is totally disconnected from reality,” Nace said.

A new nuclear facility being constructed in Somerset, England, has also been hit by delays and cost blowouts.

An International Energy Agency analysis released earlier this month found global nuclear capacity would reach 582 gigawatts by 2040 – well below the 730 gigawatts needed to achieve net zero emissions.

“This gap widens even further after 2040, so long-term operation of the existing nuclear fleet and a near-doubling of the annual rate of capacity additions are required,” the report said.

“While some of this additional nuclear capacity will not come online until the late 2030s, policy decisions are required now to put nuclear back on track.”

About 20 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity need to be added each year between now and 2050 to achieve carbon neutrality – a rate of construction is comparable with the pre-Fukushima period.   https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/macron-backs-nuclear-power-to-meet-france-s-net-zero-ambitions-20211110-p597kk.html

November 11, 2021 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

In Wales, strong opposition to UK plan for small nuclear reactors – too slow, dangerous, super costly compared to quick cheap renewables.

Nuclear set to return to Wylfa and Trawsfynydd as Rolls-Royce secures funding for mini-reactors. Nuclear power looks set to return to Wales after Rolls-Royce secured £450m for a venture to build mini nuclear reactors. Trawsfynydd and Wylfa are understood to be two of the sites being lined up for the multi-billion pound mini-power stations.The company hopes to build five by 2031, and then another eleven in the years that follow.

The UK Government have announced that they will match a £245m investment made by a consortium made up of Rolls-Royce, BNF Resources and the US generator Exelon Generation with £210 of their own. Rolls-Royce has previously said that there was a “pretty high probability” Trawsfynydd could house the first reactor by the early 2030s.

Plans for new nuclear reactors have however already attracted opposition in Wales. Anti-nuclear groups have already criticised the plans, saying that the emphasis should be placed on green renewable energy instead. Dylan Morgan of PAWB (People Against Wylfa B) said last month: “We have an immediate crisis now. Building huge reactors at a nuclear power station take at least 15 years. “Nuclear power is slow, dangerous and extortionately expensive.

It will do nothing to address the current energy crisis, neither will it be effective to counter climate change.
“The UK and Welsh governments should divert resources and support away from wasteful and outdated nuclear power projects towards developing renewable technologies that are much cheaper and can provide faster and more sustainable solutions to the energy crisis and the challenges of climate change.”

 Nation Cymru 9th Nov 2021
 https://nation.cymru/news/nuclear-set-to-return-to-wylfa-and-trawsfynydd-as-rolls-royce-secures-funding-for-mini-reactors/

November 11, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

Germany reaffirms its opposition to nuclear power being designated as ”sustainable”

Germany will work towards an exclusion of nuclear power from the EU taxonomy for sustainable investments, the country’s environment minister Svenja Schulze has affirmed. “We don’t want nuclear energy, we don’t think it’s sustainable and we don’t want the EU to support it,“ the acting minister from the Social Democrats (SPD) told newspapers of the Funke Mediengruppe in an article carried by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Schulze added that the German government is not alone on this position, countering an initiative of several other EU member states under the leadership of France to give nuclear power a greater role in the EU’s plans for decarbonisation and the greening of the financial system.


Building nuclear plants would be much too expensive and time-consuming for effective climate action, with plants commissioned now only being ready for operation by 2045 due to lengthy searches for a location, licensing hurdles and expectable protests against it, she argued. Conservative (CSU) Bavarian state premier Markus Söder backed Schulze’s rejection to make the
technology a tool for climate action, arguing that Germany’s nuclear phase-out “is based on broad societal acceptance.”

 Clean Energy Wire 8th Nov 2021

https://www.cleanenergywire.org/news/german-politicians-affirm-rejection-nuclear-power-eu-sustainable-finance-taxonomy

November 11, 2021 Posted by | climate change, Germany | 2 Comments

Europe’s dilemma over whether or not to include nuclear power in its sustainabble finance taxonomy


Greenwashing or viable solution? Europe has a big decision to make on nuclear power, CNBC, NOV 9 2021Silvia Amaro @SILVIA_AMARO

It is a long-standing dilemma that the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, must resolve in the coming weeks.
Ultimately, its decision will have repercussions on its efforts to be a global leader in the area of climate change
.

LONDON — The European Union must decide whether nuclear is a clean source of energy, but the decision is tough with countries divided about the right labelling.

Some EU members, notably France, which have big investments in nuclear and are wary of using gas from Russia see the energy resource as a viable option. Other nations, including Germany, believe it is time to move away from it and are worried about nuclear waste.

It is a long-standing dilemma that the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, must resolve in the coming weeks. The commission is due to publish its sustainable finance taxonomy — rules that will help clarify to investors what the bloc sees as green investments — as an attempt to boost financing in these areas.

Ultimately, its decision will have repercussions on its efforts to be a global leader in the area of climate change……………….

Opponents to inclusion of nuclear power into the EU green taxonomy, led by Germany, argue that the technology is not suitable to achieve sustainability targets, including establishing a transition to a circular economy,” Henning Gloystein, director for energy, climate and resources at consultancy group Eurasia, told CNBC via email.

“The core problem for critics is that there is no solution for long-term storage of nuclear waste. All current solutions are temporary,” he added.

The inclusion of nuclear in the EU’s green taxonomy has also been criticized by activists.

The World Wide Fund for Nature has said that classifying nuclear as somewhat sustainable “would allow the greenwashing of billions of euros of financing for these activities, despite the high emissions from fossil gas and the radioactive waste produced by nuclear power.”

Green image at risk

More broadly, whatever the commission decides will also send a signal to other nations.

The European Commission praises itself for having the most concrete plan on how to cut greenhouse gas emissions — a plan that is still yet to be approved by lawmakers.

The institution has also lobbied other parts of the world, including China, to put forward concrete steps on how they intend to achieve carbon neutrality……….. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/11/09/cop26-europe-has-a-big-decision-to-make-on-nuclear-power.html

November 11, 2021 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE | Leave a comment

China and Saudi Arabia blocking progress towards a deal at COP26

China and Saudi Arabia are blocking progress towards a deal at Cop26 by
refusing to accept that they must be fully transparent about their
greenhouse gas emissions. Senior negotiators at the climate change
conference in Glasgow said that both countries had objected to proposed
reporting requirements aimed at resolving concerns that some nations
conceal the extent of their emissions.

The dispute is delaying progress on
other ingredients of a deal, including rules on establishing a global
market for carbon offsetting. China is understood to object because its
climate target is based on a reduction in emissions per unit of GDP,
meaning that full transparency would reveal data it wants to keep secret
about its economic growth.

Saudi Arabia’s emissions are strongly
influenced by its biggest company, the oil giant Saudi Aramco, and it is
thought to be concerned about revealing information about its performance.
China and Saudi Arabia are also objecting to proposed wording in the final
text that emphasises the need to limit warming to 1.5C, meaning the coal
and oil on which they depend would have to be phased out more quickly.

 Times 9th Nov 2021

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/chinese-and-saudis-thwart-moves-towards-climate-deal-5pr86frjv

November 11, 2021 Posted by | China, climate change, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Australian-UK-US nuclear submarine deal makes the connection clear between civilian and military nuclear activities

In failing fully to investigate this link between military nuclear and civil energy policy, the UK media have also missed more intimate connections. The senior Energy Ministry figure who negotiated the extraordinarily costly electricity contracts with France from the sole UK nuclear power plant currently under development went on to become the leading official in the Defence Ministry.

This same individual confirmed under questioning by Parliament that the nuclear submarine program is connected to civil nuclear policy. And it is this same person who is reported to have played a lead role in brokering the AUKUS deal.

In the United Kingdom, France, the United States, and Australia, policies in non-military, non-nuclear areas are often shaped by military nuclear interests. The AUKUS alliance is driven, in part, by a longstanding crisis in the nuclear submarine industry’s efforts to realize economies of scale.

In these countries, energy policy is steered towards risky, costly, delay-prone nuclear options rather than alternatives. In the process, policymakers impede progress on vital climate targets. Throughout, the public remains unaware. So, the gravest damage inflicted by hidden nuclear military interests is not their warping effects on non-military policy but on the health of democracy. 

Australian-UK-US nuclear submarine deal exposes civilian-military links,  https://thebulletin.org/2021/11/australian-uk-us-nuclear-submarine-deal-exposes-civilian-military-links/ Bulletin, By, Phil Johnstone | November 9, 2021 Andy Stirling Andy Stirling is Professor of Science and Technology Policy in the Science Policy Research Unit at Sussex University where he co-directs the ESRC. Phil Johnstone is a Senior Research Fellow at the Science Policy Research Unit at Sussex University. Phil has researched and published widely .

Under the AUKUS agreement, the United States and the United Kingdom plan to transfer nuclear submarine technologies to Australia. One international security scholar characterized the deal as “a terrible decision for the nonproliferation regime,” noting grave concerns for peace and security worldwide. Others have expressed concerns about “loopholes” surrounding nuclear submarine fissile materials, increased nuclear risks in the Pacific, and a potential acceleration of an arms race in the region. Still others doubt the purported efficacy of nuclear-propelled submarine designs.

Within national borders, nuclear activities often depend on expensive access to specific skills, supply chains, regulatory and design capabilities, educational and research institutions, and waste management and security infrastructures. These dependencies are especially strong in national struggles to build, maintain, and operate nuclear-propelled submarines. The AUKUS announcement overturned normally sacrosanct nuclear secrecy on these matters. It also raised bigger questions about energy policy, climate strategies, and democracy itself.

In democratic nuclear weapons states such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, shared civil-military nuclear industrial bases are largely—albeit indirectly—funded by electricity consumers. Colossal investments in new nuclear power are underwritten by anticipated revenues from future electricity sales. These investments flow through nuclear construction supply chains and outward to support military nuclear activities. In this way, crucial support is given to military infrastructures, outside of defense budgets and off the public books. But as civil nuclear power declines, this massive hidden funding flow may diminish, which presents problems for nuclear submarines whose costs are not only often prohibitive but escalating.

The AUKUS deal makes more sense when viewed in light of this crisis in the US, UK, and French national nuclear submarine industries. Spiralling civil nuclear construction delaystechnological failuresbankruptcies, and fraud exercise little effect on government commitments to civil nuclear power, given pressure to underpin military capability. This is why these governments are failing to recognize the radical technology and market changes that render baseload power, according to industry, “outdated.” This is why policymakers so often neglect renewables and storage options that are outcompeting nuclear power. This is why some argue that nuclear power must persist as a “necessary part of the mix” in nuclear weapons states, despite diverse alternatives offering sufficient volumes of zero carbon power more quickly and cheaply than can nuclear.

Although well documented in the defense policy documents of existing and aspiring nuclear weapons states, these military drivers have been seriously neglected in discussions of energy and climate strategies. Recently however, some countries have begun to acknowledge the strong connections between civil and military nuclear capabilities.

In the United States, for instance, a report led by former energy secretary Ernest Moniz said in 2017 that “a strong domestic supply chain is needed to provide for nuclear Navy requirements. This supply chain has an inherent and very strong overlap with … commercial nuclear energy.” Since then, multiple high level reports have acknowledged that US military nuclear programs depend on a vibrant civil nuclear sector. The connectivity of the civilian and military nuclear value chain—including shared equipment, services, and human capital—has created a mutually reinforcing feedback loop, wherein a robust civilian nuclear industry supports the nuclear elements of the national security establishment,” according to one study. Civil nuclear activities transfer an effective value of $26.1 billion dollars to the US military nuclear enterprise, according to this study.

In recent years, French press reports have hinted that dwindling civil nuclear power threatens national military nuclear capabilities. President Macron confirmed this when he said that “without civil nuclear power, there can be no military nuclear power.” Military drivers of civil nuclear activities are also acknowledged in more authoritarian nuclear states like Russia and China.

Australia possesses some of the most abundant and competitive renewable energy resources in the world. Yet the Australian nuclear lobby argues that acquiring military nuclear technology will benefit the claimed imperative to establish a civil nuclear industry. Prime Minister Scott Morrison asserted that he is not pushing for a civil nuclear power program, but other prominent voices disagree. Referring to submarine-derived small modular reactors, Australian politician and UK trade advisor Tony Abbott said that “if nuclear power is ok at sea, pretty soon it will be ok on land, too.” The Minerals Council for Australia claims that acquiring military nuclear technology is an “incredible opportunity” because it “connect[s] [Australia]… to the growing global nuclear power industry and its supply chains.”

Australian civil nuclear proponents welcome the aspirations of military nuclear proponents—and the reverse is also true. Australia’s military is concerned that a lack of a civil nuclear industry may pose difficulties for sustaining nuclear submarine competencies. Australian Navy Admiral Chris Barry pointed out that the absence of a civil nuclear industry left a “big gap” in the country’s ability to manage nuclear submarines. Some argue that a civil nuclear sector in Australia could provide the skills and expertise to enable military nuclear capability. Others are concerned that Australia will be the only country with nuclear submarines but no civilian nuclear industry. Military nuclear ambitions drive otherwise-inexplicable civil nuclear attachments.

In the United Kingdom, some worry about a post-imperial loss of a coveted “seat at the top table” of world affairs. Here again, nuclear submarine capabilities take center stage. Former prime minister Tony Blair worried that relinquishing nuclear capabilities would be “too big a downgrading of our status as a nation.” Meanwhile, detailed official energy policy analyses urged the government to set nuclear plans aside, given trends in renewables and related options. But shortly after a Defence Ministry report on submarine capabilities, Tony Blair swapped the open energy policy consultation for a quicker, covert process, after which the government proclaimed a “nuclear renaissance.”

The Royal Courts of Justice found reasoning for this policy insufficient, but Blair doubled down. “Nuclear power is back with a vengeance,” he said, invoking the name of the recently launched ballistic missile submarine, HMS Vengeance. He did not mention the military rationale. Since then, UK government white papers have failed to justify the country’s civil nuclear commitments—for instance by comparing nuclear costs with those of renewable alternatives. The commitment is taken for granted.

In the United Kingdom, the submarine industry’s openness about military pressures for civil nuclear power contrasts with energy policymakers’ silence. Now-declassified defense reports express grave worries that faltering civil nuclear programs undermine provision for essential military skills. Submarine-builder BAE Systems admits that funding for civil programs “masks” military costs. Naval reactor manufacturer Rolls Royce states that their expensive, government-funded efforts on ostensibly civilian small modular reactors can “relieve the burden” on Defence Ministry efforts to retain skills and capabilities for military programs.  Numerous other government documents highlight synergies between civil and military nuclear skills. Yet when challenged, the UK Government denies that civil nuclear commitments influence military activities.

Boris Johnson emphasized that the AUKUS deal offers the United Kingdom “a new opportunity to strengthen Britain’s position as a science and technology superpower, and … could reduce the cost of the next generation of nuclear submarines for the Royal Navy.” Indeed, as discussed in this publicationthe deal is “…likely to have particular significance for the UK’s nuclear program” because “the UK is struggling through a number of issues related to the revamping of its nuclear enterprise. Despite government denials, Johnson’s statement confirms that the AUKUS deal is influenced by the same cost pressures and economies of scale associated with dogged maintenance of a shared civil-military industrial base.

In failing fully to investigate this link between military nuclear and civil energy policy, the UK media have also missed more intimate connections. The senior Energy Ministry figure who negotiated the extraordinarily costly electricity contracts with France from the sole UK nuclear power plant currently under development went on to become the leading official in the Defence Ministry. This same individual confirmed under questioning by Parliament that the nuclear submarine program is connected to civil nuclear policy. And it is this same person who is reported to have played a lead role in brokering the AUKUS deal.

In the United Kingdom, France, the United States, and Australia, policies in non-military, non-nuclear areas are often shaped by military nuclear interests. The AUKUS alliance is driven, in part, by a longstanding crisis in the nuclear submarine industry’s efforts to realize economies of scale. In these countries, energy policy is steered towards risky, costly, delay-prone nuclear options rather than alternatives. In the process, policymakers impede progress on vital climate targets. Throughout, the public remains unaware. So, the gravest damage inflicted by hidden nuclear military interests is not their warping effects on non-military policy but on the health of democracy. 

November 11, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Finland’s Greens remain anti-nuclear, despite antics of a breakaway group

‘Which greens, there’s two? One carrying the original Green message, of the 1970s, egalitarian, social democracy, adopted by all other European countries.Green League – The Greens” Known throughout Europe, as the European Greens• Finnish: Vihreä liitto• Swedish: Gröna förbundet

 Paul RichardsNuclear Fuel Cycle Watch Australia, 11 Nov 21, Finland greens are reported to have switched to pro-nuclear power

The other, pro-nuclear group, broke away, branding itself green. Much like the Liberal Party, in Australia, who are hard-right, neocon and neoliberal.Liberal by brand, conservative by demonstrated values. A long con, that thoroughly confuses the Republican idiocracy in the US. A group, who think liberals are, communists.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1021186047913052

November 11, 2021 Posted by | Finland, politics | Leave a comment

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating scathing about Australia’s planned nuclear submarine deal

Mr Keating accused Mr Morrison of ‘wantonly leading Australia into a strategic dead end by its needless provocations against China’. 

Australia’s eight nuclear subs by 2040 will be like ‘throwing toothpicks at a mountain’ when facing China, ex-PM declares in scathing pro-Beijing speech slamming Scott Morrison’s Covid origins probe.   Daily Mail UK

  • Australia cancelled a $90billion submarine contract with France in September 
  • Instead Scott Morrison has partnered with US and UK to obtain nuclear boats 
  • Former Prime Minister Paul Keating said they will be ‘very old’ when ready
    • He also blasted Mr Morrison for offending China with call for Covid inquiry 

By CHARLIE MOORE, POLITICAL REPORTER FOR DAILY MAIL AUSTRALIA 10 November 2021   In September, Mr Morrison cancelled a contract with France for 12 conventional submarines in favour of a new partnership with the US and UK known as AUKUS which will give Australia the technology to build nuclear boats for the first time.

But Mr Keating said they will take too long to arrive and pale in comparison to China’s navy which already has six nuclear-powered subs and more than 50 diesel-powered subs.  

Mr Keating, who led Australia as a Labor Prime Minister between 1991 and 1996, said the eight US-style nuclear submarines would have no impact militarily. 

‘These Virginia-class submarines were designed in the 1990s – by the time we have half a dozen of them it’ll be 2045 or 2050 – they’ll be 50 or 60 years old.

‘In other words, our new submarines will be old tech – it’ll be like buying an old 747.

‘And here we are, we’re going to wait 20 odd years to get the first one and 35 to 40 years to get the lot. For what will be then very old boats.’ 

Mr Keating said Australia was falling in line with the US strategy to use nuclear ‘hunter killer’ submarines to contain China. 

‘The whole point of these hunter killer submarines is to round up the Chinese nuclear submarines and keep them in the shallow waters of the Chinese continental shelf before they get to the Mariana Trench and become invisible,’ he said.

‘To stop them having nuclear capability towards the United States.’

The 77-year-old insisted that China has no desire to expand its territory in the east and said Australia should be focussing on its own defence with conventional subs.

[Former Deputy Prime Minister] Kim Beazley and I built the Collins [class submarines]. I built the Anzac frigates, they were built for the defence of Australia. Their range was to stop any incoming vessels, military vessels against us,’ he said.  ……….

Mr Keating accused Mr Morrison of ‘wantonly leading Australia into a strategic dead end by its needless provocations against China’. 

Instead, he said Australia should show China respect for the way it has brought millions of people out of poverty with rapid economic growth over the past few decades.

‘I think what the Chinese want is the acknowledgement of validity of what they have done and what they have created,’ he said. 

Mr Keating, who has frequently defended the Chinese Government, said Beijing does not represent a threat to Australia despite its military build up in the south and east china seas and its sweeping territorial claims in the region. 

China does not represent a contiguous threat to Australia,’ he said, insisting it is not like the Soviet Union which wanted communism to spread across the world after the Second World War.

‘China is not about turning over the existing world order. It only wants to reform it, and it wants to reform it because of its only scale,’ he said.

‘It signed up to the World Trade Organisation, it signed up to the International Monetary Fund, it signed up to the World Bank, it signed up to the World Health Organisation.’……………… https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10184775/Paul-Keating-blasts-Australias-nuclear-submarines-pro-China-speech.html

November 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international | Leave a comment

Biden and Congress agree: Build Back Bombs Better

Biden and Congress agree: Build Back Bombs Better, $1.75 trillion for the social welfare/climate bill; $1.75 trillion for ‘modernizing’ nukes. Asia Times, By JOHN WALSH, NOVEMBER 8, 2021  Last Friday, the US Congress passed the “Infrastructure” Bill, which will be signed into law post haste, says the White House. The bill, designed to upgrade roads, bridges, transport and broadband, is a bricks-and-mortar affair and will benefit industry and commerce. It is the first of two bills that have been the center of attention in the US for months now

The second bill is the Build Back Better bill. This bill has provisions for childcare and preschool, elder care, health care, prescription-drug pricing, immigration and curbing greenhouse-gas emissions. This might be described as a bill for people, not for bricks and mortar. It has been the darling of progressives in Congress. The White House has now promised it will come up for a vote by November 15.

Whatever one may think of the Build Back Better bill, there is no doubt it is a shadow of its original self. The total for the Build Back Better plan was to be in the neighborhood of $6 trillion, as originally envisaged by congressional progressives, and then it slipped to about $3 trillion, and now it has shrunk again to $1.75 trillion – the incredible shrinking Build Back Better bill. 

It is woefully inadequate. On health care, greenhouse gases, family leave, education and other matters, it is little more than a stingy beginning.

Now look at the cost of “upgrading” and “modernizing” the US nuclear arsenal, a program that was originated by Barack Obama, after he got his Nobel Peace Prize, and has now ballooned beyond its original $1 trillion price tag to a stunning $1.75 trillion. No shrinkage there. For both main US political parties, no cost is too high to keep us Americans poised every instant on the razor edge of Accidental Armageddon.

Nuclear weapon “modernization,” however, is only one small corner of the total picture.  Let’s look at the entire military budget. ………..

The situation is even more barbaric when we look at the entire “national security” budget, which includes the yearly budget of the 17 “intel” agencies and comes to $1.3 trillion. No expenditure is too great, it seems, to ensure that the feds track all our phone conversations and e-mails and harass every unsuspecting Chinese student and academic they can get their mitts on. It would take only 13% of that $1.3 trillion to fund Build Back Better.     …………

From all of the above, a compelling proposal emerges. A 23% cut in the military budget (or if you wish to cast your net wider, a 13% cut in the “national security” budget) would fund the entire Build Back Better Bill – with no more cuts. 

With a 23% cut for fiscal 2022, the military budget drops from $750 billion to $580 billion. That is still well in excess of the combined military expenditures of $314 billion for China ($252 billion) and Russia ($62 billion). In fact a cut of 50% in the military outlay would still leave it at $375 billion, still higher than the combined expenditure of Russia and China.

If an elected official cannot agree to that, he or she is either paranoid or a hegemonist up to no good. In either event. they should be barred from public office………..

Bomb Back Better,” if we might call it that, will sail through Congress and the White House as effortlessly as a vulture on the wing.

Common sense suggests we Americans transfer our hard-earned dollars from guns to butter, but no such prospect is in sight. Only one act is required to get to that promised land. We must not vote for anyone who cannot see his or her way to an ironclad commitment to a 50% cut in the National “Security” Budget – for starters. It’s as easy as that.  https://asiatimes.com/2021/11/biden-and-congress-agree-build-back-bombs-better/

November 11, 2021 Posted by | politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Escalation of nuclear tensions between USA and China as a result of the AUKUS deal


AUKUS, WEAPON PLANS SIGNAL NUCLEAR ESCALATION IN US-CHINA TENSIONS  
https://ctnewsjunkie.com/2021/11/10/op-ed-aukus/

by Jamil RaglandNovember 10, 2021,  Wh
at do Groton, Connecticut, and Adelaide, Australia, have in common? Soon, both will be home to one of the United States’ most guarded secrets: nuclear submarine technology.

In mid-September, the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia announced the AUKUS trilateral security partnership (the acronym AUKUS is the combination of the abbreviation for each nation). The key feature of this new security partnership is that the United States will share its knowledge and capabilities in building nuclear-powered submarines with the Australian government. This is a major move, as the US has only shared this technology with Great Britain, the other member of AUKUS.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison stressed that these would only be nuclear-powered submarines, not nuclear armed. Yet as the leaders of the AUKUS nations described their intent to “preserve security and stability in the Indo-Pacific,” all eyes turned to China, the nation which went unmentioned in the remarks, yet who was clearly the focus of the new partnership.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian responded by saying that the security partnership was “extremely irresponsible.” He went on to say that the nuclear submarine cooperation among AUKUS “has seriously undermined regional peace and stability, intensified the arms race, and undermined international non-proliferation efforts.” 

Yet China itself tested a new kind of missile in August which ups the ante in terms of weaponry. Known as a hypersonic missile, this weapon is designed to evade US missile defense systems that were built to shoot down old-style ballistic missiles that follow a predictable trajectory after launch. The new Chinese missile enters the atmosphere from a lower point and is maneuverable, which makes intercepting them much more difficult. And the missile is capable of carrying a nuclear payload.

It seems that 50 years of living with “mutually assured destruction” as an actual policy during the US-Soviet Cold War has taught the leaders of the largest nations in the world nothing about the dangers of nuclear posturing. After near accidents and close calls such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, which brought both nations to the brink of war, it appeared that maybe a lesson had been learned. Real progress was made between the Soviet Union (now Russia) and the United States in reducing nuclear stockpiles. At the global peak, there were more than 70,000 nuclear weapons around the world; that number is now down to about 13,000.

But this progress is threatened by the foolhardy arms race the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson warned about, even as his nation was participating in it. We now have US military personnel bragging about the “exquisite timing” with which they can now detonate nuclear weapons to maximize their horrifying destructive capabilities. This is almost certainly a response to China’s new hypersonic missile. And up the ladder of escalation we go.

I’m too young to have experienced bomb drills during the height of the Cold War, but I had teachers who did. My eighth-grade history teacher was obsessed with impressing upon us the power of nuclear weapons; he described in detail the blast radius of a 50-megaton thermonuclear bomb. He showed us the movie The Day After, which showed the after-effects of a nuclear war between the United States and Russia.

He told us that even though we didn’t live near the nuclear silos like the families in the movies, we still weren’t safe. Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, and of course the naval base at Groton, would put Connecticut on the front lines of a nuclear conflict. I had nightmares for weeks about my impending vaporization.

But ultimately, I realized I was worried about nothing. The Soviet Union had collapsed, and Russia and the United States, while not exactly friends, weren’t exactly enemies either. We were living in what policymakers and writers called the “unipolar moment,” where the United States stood unchallenged in the world. The potential for nuclear war was confined to the movies, no matter how real they seemed.

Now though, what seemed like fantasy is creeping back into the realm of the possible. New weapons, partnerships, and acronyms can’t mask the feeling of historical déjà vu that we’re experiencing now. We even have an island nation to serve as a potential flashpoint for Armageddon – Taiwan in this case, not Cuba. Unless our leaders head off potential conflict and find a peaceful way to coexist, we may have to live with a day after that none of us want.

Jamil Ragland writes and lives in East Hartford. You can read more of his writing at www.nutmeggerdaily.com.

November 11, 2021 Posted by | politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Carbon capture and storage – not all that it’s cracked up to be.


Carbon capture has been heralded by some as an important technological solution to the climate crisis.
The Ferret, 8 Nov 21

As COP26 continues in Glasgow, the potential impact of carbon capture and storage in reducing emissions is in the spotlight. 

Ferret Fact Service looked at how it works, and whether carbon capture is actually a viable solution…………

According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, there are currently 26 large-scale carbon capture projects in use globally, with 34 more in different stages of development.

What are the drawbacks of carbon capture?

Some environmental campaigners have raised questions about the technology.

One issue is the slow progress in getting carbon capture facilities ready. While it has been trumpeted as one of the major tech solutions for the climate crisis, the amount of CO2 currently captured by CCS is small. 

Currently operating CCS facilities have the capacity to capture about 40 million tonnes of CO2 each year. The latest global figure for fossil fuel CO2 emissions (2020) was 34 billion tonnes

Many countries’ climate change plans rely heavily on carbon capture, but some analysts have questioned whether this is a realistic and effective use of environmental budgets that could be spent on renewable energy sources, for example. 

The cost of carbon capture development and getting CCS facilities to commercial levels has been criticised. 

Another issue is that most of the carbon capture projects won’t be in operation until the next decade. Scientists say significant carbon reductions are required this decade if the world is to reduce global temperature increase. 

Currently, much of the carbon captured is being used in enhanced oil recovery (EOR). This is where oil companies use CO2 to obtain oil from previously unreachable reservoirs. Critics argue that this actually exacerbates overall climate change, as it allows more oil to be accessed which is then burned, adding to emissions, despite reducing carbon released during extraction.

There are also fears that carbon capture will be used as a way for countries with heavy fossil fuel production to continue to extract and sell them, which would hamper global attempts to reduce emissions. 

Fears have been raised of the potential danger of CO2 leaking from the underground areas it is stored, either gradually or suddenly………   https://theferret.scot/ffs-explains-carbon-capture-storage/

November 11, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Taiwan’s referendum about unsealing nuclear power plant: but safety risks persist

Yes’ vote will unseal nuclear plant: premier, Taipei Times, 10 Nov 21, By Chien Hui-ju and Kayleigh Madjar / Staff reporter, with staff writer and CNA

  • The Fourth Nuclear Power Plant would be unsealed if people vote in favor of its activation in a referendum next month, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday, although one of his ministers earlier said that nuclear power is not an answer to Taiwan’s energy challenges.
  • Provisions of the Referendum Act (公民投票法) stipulate that the plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) — which has lain dormant since 2015, when it was mothballed by then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) — must be unsealed if enough people vote that way on Dec. 18.Launched by nuclear power advocate Huang Shih-hsiu (黃士修), referendum No. 17 — one of four referendums to be voted on — asks: “Do you agree that the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be unsealed and operated commercially to generate electricity?”

A possible start of the plant has worried people in the area, Su said at the legislature in Taipei, citing feedback from Yilan County.

The plant was sealed by Ma after public opposition rose due to perceived safety risks at the nearly completed facility.

However, Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) told reporters before the legislative session that anyone who understands the safety concerns and related problems at the plant would know that activation “is not an option.”

Responding to a comment by Huang that Japan’s Kyushu Electric Power restarted a reactor late last year, despite earthquake and volcano concerns, Wang said that every plant is different.

  • Taiwan has its own set of circumstances that it must consider, for instance a geological survey after it was built found that the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is in a fault zone, she said, adding that it has operational problems with its No. 1 generator, which has not passed inspections.
  • Activation of the plant would take more than 10 years, she said, citing evaluations from the Atomic Energy Council.All professional decisions on the matter are in the hands of the council, she said.There would be many issues to work through before the facility could generate power were the vote to succeed, including new construction contracts, as well as fixing outdated equipment and interface integration issues, she said.The Democratic Progressive Party is intent on phasing out nuclear power by 2025, and Taiwan’s dependence on such energy has fallen significantly from more than 50 percent in 1985 to only 12.7 percent last year, Taiwan Power Co data showed……… https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2021/11/10/2003767647

November 11, 2021 Posted by | politics, Taiwan | Leave a comment

Greta Thunberg and youth activists filing legal petition to UN, urging for a declaration of “system-wide climate emergency”

Greta Thunberg and youth climate activists from around the world are
filing a legal petition to the UN secretary-general urging him to declare a
“system-wide climate emergency”. As Cop26 enters its final days,
climate campaigners were due to file a legal document on Wednesday calling
on António Guterres to use emergency powers to match the level of response
adopted for the coronavirus pandemic by pronouncing the climate crisis a
global level 3 emergency – the UN’s highest category.

 Guardian 10th Nov 2021

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/nov/10/youth-activists-petition-un-to-declare-systemwide-climate-emergenc

November 11, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

“Cover decision” – a draft outcome of COP26 climate talks – planet still headed for 2.4C of warming above pre-industrial levels

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is returning to the COP26 climate summit in
Glasgow – urging nations to “pull out all the stops” to limit warming. The
first draft of an agreement setting out how countries will cut emissions to
avoid temperature rises of above 1.5C is due to be published later.

The agreement – known as a “cover decision” – is the negotiated outcome of the
COP26 talks. Mr Johnson said negotiators would be working to “turn promises
into action”. Despite the promises made at the summit so far, the planet is
still heading for 2.4C of warming above pre-industrial levels, according to
a report by Climate Action Tracker. A global average temperature rise of
just 2C could mean a billion people are affected by fatal heat and
humidity, the Met Office has warned.

 BBC 10th Nov 2021

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-59229652

November 11, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment